This American history survey uses the lenses of business history, economic history, and labor history to examine the transformation of the American economy. Focusing on the nature, causes, and consequences or economic change, this course will chart the transformation of North America from a small outpost of the Atlantic economy into a global economic giant. Themes will include the rise of new commodities, Native American economies the changing structure of business, labor movements, the role of race and gender in American workplaces, and the role of the state in economic development.
In this graduate seminar, students will read and discuss secondary sources on nineteenth-century America. The course is intended to give students a grasp of major historiography issues and to prepare them for general exams.
This class, a lecture course on the history of technologies of communication and interconnectedness, will cover the period between the invention of the printing press and the completion of the first transatlantic telegraph line. Major themes would include the history of the book, the circulation of commercial information in price currents, account books, and letters, and the launch of early postal services, from Thurn and Taxis and the Royal Mail in the sixteenth century to the American postal service in the eighteenth.
What is a commodity? In modern business and economic theory, commodities are those goods which are undifferentiated from each other, and thus fungible. But commodification and commoditization have social and theoretical valences beyond this simple definition. This course will introduce students to the study of commodities through four modules.
In 1881, economist F. Y Edgeworth wrote in his Mathematical Psychics that “the first principle of Economics is that every agent is actuated only by self interest.” The claim that men are (and should be?) rational actors has become a privileged and powerful concept in contemporary social and economic debates. From one perspective, “rational acting” can be conceived of as a manifestation of freedom—an economic interpretation of the pursuit of happiness. Through another lens, the philosophy of economic rationality collapses into selfishness.